Buying good tools at old prices
There are many ways you can buy hand tools and related equipment, new or secondhand, and end up with really good results that will equal the best at a fraction of the cost. My blogs have alluded to this over the past year or two, and here are the nuts and bolts of buying secondhand or new. In my experience, secondhand markets seem to me inexhaustible because so many were made and even with the current uptrend in hand tool work, there will always be tools cycling through for decades to come as long as tool prices are better than scrap metal and recycled raw metal prices.
Secondhand or new
I have wanted to put together a truly practical and inexpensive tool kit for hand tool woodworkers to garnish from places such as eBay and secondhand markets like garage sales, car boot venues and flleamarkets. Some tools are better new than secondhand and will likely cost you less than secondhand. EBay will usually prove the cheapest option with the largest range of supplier possibilities including on line stores, catalog companies, online magazines and secondhand options. Sometimes I may give two or three possibilities or options for the same tool, depending on choices such as maker/manufacturer, importer, tool quality and much more. If a tool lacks finish quality, but delivers accuracy, I will likely suggest the cheaper option. If a tool delivers accuracy for a season but is likely to eventually lose its accuracy because of the materials used over the years, I will likely still suggest the cheaper option. This is based on the buy-better-later-and-get-started-now principle rather than postponing the start. The choice will of course be yours. Those that have the money and are willing to pay high prices can shop elsewhere. This series is not meant for this group of people. Cost with accuracy are the two primary factors here. Following my my blog, current and future YouTube videos, and so on you can garner the exact information to restore, sharpen and fine tune the tools ready to begin really fine woodworking. You will also be able to ask me via email or comments section and I will always answer your questions or address your concerns there.
At the start of each tool article, I will go back through my purchases of the past year, total the amounts paid for particular tools, and give the average price I paid for each tool type. For instance I have purchased thirty #4 Stanley planes. I have also purchased each of the tools in the kit in the last month and will give the price I paid for each individual tool. I am looking for certain things that determine which tool I bid on or buy. This I will pass on to you. The criteria may differ with each tool type. For instance, I am not necessarily always looking for a new or should I say unused tool, often the exact opposite. Most old saws are better than new ones and can equally match the very best being made today. The same is true of planes, spokeshaves and so on. They are unlikely to be sharp and set or adjusted well and they may need serious help beyond that too, but I am of the opinion that I can teach just about anyone to define and shape teeth on any saw or set tup their plane and spokeshave, cabinet scraper or whatever in around one hour. Subsequent sharpenings will take much less because from here on you will stay on top of all the saws you own.
This applies to new tools too
Though I intend this to help poorer woodworkers and those who want to be frugal or recycle old tools, most of the information can indeed be applied to new tools regardless of the maker or the quality of the tools. You may want to adapt a new handsaw by reshaping teeth, and, of course, soon after purchasing an expensive saw they need sharpening as much as a secondhand one.
I will begin with the most important tool in any woodworkers tool kit and then take each tool in turn. I am looking for longevity as primary need, quality I can obtain from using them also, but more than that I am looking for tools that guarantee me the ability to produce absolute accuracy no matter the tool.